Coca cola vs. science

Wow, so this is disturbing.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my past few years of reading so much about diet and nutrition (and from my own personal experiences) is that is way easier to modify calories in than calories out.  Of course, Americans on average are way too sedentary and need more exercise, but apparently Coke has been funding a non-profit to argue that this is the key to America’s obesity problem, not our over-consumption of food, especially food with added sugars.  Basically, they want to argue, exercise more and drink Coke.  Of course, the answer is (of course) exercise more and (of course!) don’t drink Coke.  As for what the scientific near-consensus on the matter says:

Most public health experts say that energy balance is an important concept, because weight gain for most people is about calories in vs. calories out. But the experts say research makes it clear that one side of the equation has a far greater effect.

While people can lose weight in several ways, many studies suggest that those who keep it off for good consume fewer calories. Growingevidence also suggests that maintaining weight loss is easier when people limit their intake of high glycemic foods such as sugary drinks and other refined carbohydrates, which sharply raise blood sugar.

Physical activity is important and certainly helps, experts say. But studies show that exercise increases appetite, causing people to consume more calories. Exercise also expends far fewer calories than most people think. A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola, for example, contains 140 calories and roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar. “It takes three miles of walking to offset that one can of Coke,” Dr. Popkin said…

“Adding exercise to a diet program helps,” said Dr. Anne McTiernan, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. “But for weight loss, you’re going to get much more impact with diet changes.”

But much like the research on sugary drinks, studies of physical activity funded by the beverage industry tend to reach conclusions that differ from the findings of studies by independent scientists.

Pretty shameful.  And it’s sad to think that some people will listen to them and then wonder why they are not actually losing any weight.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Coca cola vs. science

  1. Jon K says:

    I am living proof that it is possible to drink large amounts of soda and still lose weight. I went from eating 3 to 4 high calorie meals per day (mostly fast food) to eggs toast and hashbrowns in the morning and a sandwich (or sometimes a burger) in the afternoon. I still drink at least 2 24 oz Mountain Dew every day. I have gone from 285 to 185 in about a year (or a 44 in waist to a 34 in waist). That is a BMI of 38.6 down to 25.1. I guess the point I’m making is that it is about the total number of calories consumed – not any specific product. If I ate 5000 calories a day of tofu I’d be a disgusting fatbody just like I was when I was sleeping all the time and eating 3-4 thousand calories a day. The myth Coke is perpetuating is that one can lose weight by simply exercising. Exercise had little, if any, contribution to my weight loss. It came down 100% to eating more responsibly and exercising a little self control and free will. I feel so much better at a healthy weight I have no problem continuing to eat the way I do and feel little temptation to eat as much as I used to. It is a simple math equation: calories in > calories needed = weight gain. I don’t understand why that is such a difficult concept for people to come to terms with.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    I believe that childhood obesity starts with feeding babies and children too much fruit juice. Americans have swallowed (!) the myth that fruit juice is healthy so one should drink a lot of it.
    A glass of orange juice includes the juice of several oranges so it has the sugar of them all. If a child eats one orange, she gets minimum sugar, maximum fiber and maximum vitamins out of that orange and minimum calories. If you add the added sugar of some commercial fruit drinks, it adds up to obesity.
    Why not give your child an orange and a drink or bottle of water?

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